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FAQs for Adoptive Parents

When should I start looking into adoption?
There is no right or wrong time to begin looking into adoption. Many families begin to think about adoption after spending time in infertility treatment, and find it helpful to explore other ways to become parents. You can explore and gather a lot of information about adoption without making any commitment to the process.

Can single people and non-traditional families adopt?
Yes. Anyone who can provide a safe and loving home for a child can adopt. In private adoptions, birth parents choose the adoptive parents for their child.

Do I have to be finished with infertility treatments to begin the adoption process?
Adoption agencies vary on this issue. For some families, beginning a home study can feel like a safe way to start learning about adoption while still being involved in treatment. Adoption Options supports this approach. Other agencies may recommend that you finish treatment prior to beginning the adoption process.

What if one person in a couple doesn’t feel quite ready to turn to adoption?
It is not unusual for one person in a couple to be “fully on board” before the other. You can still begin the home study process and continue to learn about adoption together. Participating in the home study usually helps both couple members ready themselves and consider their feelings about parenting through adoption.

What is the first step?
The first step is to find an agency to do your home study. You can call licensed agencies in the state in which you live or attend informational meetings to get a sense of which agency will be right for you. Make sure you feel comfortable with the workers you meet and with the agency’s philosophy before beginning your home study. Agency workers should be open to any and all questions that you might have as you begin the adoption process.

What is a home study?
A home study is a process that is conducted to prepare families for adoption and that results in the documentation needed for an adoption to occur. A home study is required in almost all adoptions, including public agency, private agency, independent, and international adoptions.

What happens during the home study process?
The home study process includes several informal meetings with a licensed social worker, both at the agency and at the prospective adoptive parents’ home. It is the social worker’s job to provide you with the information you need to make the many decisions involved in adoption. At the same time, the social worker gathers required information for the finished document, including autobiographical and background information, letters of reference, employment verification, child abuse and criminal clearances, medical histories, and financial information.

How long does it take to adopt?
Domestic adoptions can take anywhere from six months to three years or longer. Families interested in openness in their adoption or in trans-racial adoptions often have a shorter wait. International adoptions can take widely varying amounts of time; each country’s adoption procedures differ in the number of trips to the country and length of stay required, as well as in the ages and living situations of the children available for adoption.

What is an open adoption?
An open adoption involves an agreement between adoptive parents and birth parents on some form of ongoing contact and communication between them throughout the child’s upbringing. As in a traditional, or “closed,” adoption, only the adoptive parents have legal rights to the child. The amount of contact and types of communication depend on the needs of all involved. Research demonstrates that openness in adoption can lessen the confusion, fear, and stress that may be associated with closed agreements.

What are the fees for adopting a child?
There are many ways to adopt, and costs range from none to $30,000 or more. State, or public, adoptions are free; private domestic adoptions and international adoptions can cost up to $40,000. The fee for an adoptive placement at Adoption Options is currently $17,500. Fees cover the numerous legal, clinical, and administrative expenses incurred in the ethical placement of children.

When in the process are the fees due?
This depends on the agency. Some agencies and lawyers require that some fees be paid at the beginning of the process, with the rest paid at the time of placement. Some do not ask for fees until the placement has been completed.

What if the birth parents change their mind after planning for an adoption?
Birth parents do not have to make a final decision about making an adoption plan for their child until the termination of parental rights becomes legal. In Rhode Island this is done in Family Court no sooner than 15 days after the baby is born. In Massachusetts the parental termination papers are signed no sooner than 4 days after the baby is born. Once the termination of parental rights becomes legal, the decision is irrevocable.

If you have other questions or would like more detail, please don’t hesitate to call. In Rhode Island call 401-331-5437, or call toll-free at 1-800-337-6513.